Aircraft Maintenance Technology

NOV-DEC 2018

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SAFET Y MATTERS 8 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018 AIRCRAFT MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY ndustry-level reporting systems such as the U.S. Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS), the EASA Confidential Safety Reporting system, and the U.K. Confidential Human Factors Incident Reporting Programme for avia- tion (CHIRP) have become proven staples of aviation safety management. Aviation businesses — and com- panies in other safety-critical industries for that matter — should consider complementing these industry-level programs with their own company-internal voluntary reporting systems (VRS) as integral building blocks of their safety management programs. There are two basic options for structuring a compa - ny-internal VRS: Anonymous or confidential reporting. Each of these approaches has advantages and disadvan- tages. For example, confidential reporting allows for call-back and enables further investigation and clarifi- cation of reported information which is impossible in case of anonymous reporting. However, anonymous reporting can result in collection of data that report- ing parties might otherwise be reluctant to report due to concerns regarding the reliability of confidential reporting systems. In general, aviation businesses are well advised to consider configuring a company-internal VRS so that it allows both anonymous and confidential reporting. This article suggests five key steps for setting up, achieving credibility for, and maximizing the returns from an effective company-internal VRS. FIVE STEPS TO AN EFFECTIVE INTERNAL VOLUNTARY REPORTING SYSTEM By Dr. Marc Szepan BE SPECIFIC ABOUT THE INTENDED SCOPE OF your VRS. Normally, it is easiest to set up a company- internal VRS that is exclusively focused on aviation safety issues, thereby mirroring the approach of national aviation safety reporting systems such as the ones men- tioned above. In this case, other potential noncompliance issues related to — for example — labor, environmental protection, taxation, and anti-trust laws fall outside the scope of a safety-focused VRS and should be reported through other alternative whistle-blowing channels. Put in place transparent standard operating proce- dures for handling reported issues. Keep in mind that the value-added of a VRS tends to be highest in case of reporting that includes specific details sufficient for putting in place corrective and preventive measures. Mere "venting" or "complaining" might be cathartic but usually generates only limited organizational mileage. So encourage reporting and make it as easy as pos- sible by including sufficient actionable technical and, if applicable, human factors-related details. A VRS black hole approach is not advisable. Transparent and timely feedback regarding reported issues and related lessons learned tends to encourage future participation in VRS and enhances an organi- zation's safety culture at large. So commit to realistic and reliable response times for reported issues. Create company-internal transparency with regards to lessons learned developed from information reported via a VRS. Consider disseminating these to your entire workforce via regularly published company-internal versions of safety newsletters or bulletins such as ASRS's CALLBACK or CHIRP's Air Transport FEEDBACK. Be clear about scope, process, and lessons learned!

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